What does the Bible have to say about spouses who don’t “love” each other anymore?
It seems fairly common nowadays that spouses talk about how they have grown apart and have nothing in common. They may even comment that they are not attracted to or in love with each other anymore.
It is important to understand what is meant by the word love and compare it to the love that God wants us to have for each other.
Exploring the four loves
Our English word love has a wide variety of meanings. I can say, “I love my wife,” and I can say, “I love tacos,” but that is not the same thing. The context makes the difference clear.
In Greek, there are four words for love, each with different meanings. Our English word catches fragments of all of the Greek words without expressing any one of them completely.
- Storge. This is the love of dependency. It’s the love that children have for their parents. If you were to ask my youngest two children, “Why do you love Mom and Dad?” they would tell you all of the things we do for them. This also is a beneficial love for marriage. It’s wonderful to appreciate what husband and wife do for each other.
- Philos. This is love on the basis of similarity. It is friendship love. Generally, you have things in common with people you call friends. Most adults are not still best friends with their best friend from kindergarten. Why? It’s not because they are bad people but because they just grew in different ways and are now friends with other people. This too is a beneficial love for marriage. What a blessing that your spouse is your friend!
- Eros. This is the root of our English word erotic. This is the sexual love in a marriage. This too is a beneficial love for marriage. What a blessing to be attracted to your spouse!
- Agape. This is the love that seeks the ultimate good of someone else. This love is solely in the heart of the one who loves apart from any lovable characteristic in the other person. This is the love that says, “I love you because I love you.” So even if your spouse is being unlovable, this love says, “I’m going to do what’s best for you anyway.” This love is not only beneficial for marriage but necessary.
Applying the four loves
The first three “loves” flow toward those who deserve to be loved. Agape love is the only one that flows toward even those who do not deserve to be loved. Can you guess which word Jesus uses when he says, “Love one another” (John 13:34)?
The first three loves change, even in a marriage. Jesus understands the importance of these loves, but he does not command them. Jesus does command us to love each other the way he loved us—with agape love. Even when we didn’t deserve it, even when we were unlovable, Jesus still did what was best for us and gave his life so we might have forgiveness and eternal life. In marriage, the more you show agape love, the more those other loves often grow.
When we understand what agape love is, “I don’t love my spouse anymore” becomes a selfish statement since agape love is a choice one makes to love another. Spouses need to pattern their love after the love Jesus had for them.
Have a question, ask it here!
Author: David Scharf
Volume 109, Number 02
Issue: February 2022
- Q&A: Why is Pontius Pilate immortalized in our creeds?
- Q&A: How does remembering my baptism help with the guilt I carry?
- Q&A: Do parts of the Bible teach works righteousness?
- Q&A: How can I overcome my struggle with lust and pornography?
- Q&A: How should I help my child struggling with same-sex attraction?
- Q&A: Should Christians pray to saints?
- Q&A: Is anger sinful?
- Q&A: How can parents encourage adult children who wander from the faith?
- Q&A: Does the doxology belong in the Lord’s Prayer?
- Q&A: Is God fair?
- Q&A: When we pray, “Your kingdom come,” what are we praying for?
- Q&A: How can I better manage what God has given me this year so that I glorify him?
- Q&A: What are ways to glorify God besides singing in church?
- Q&A: I have no special gifts, and I mess up all the time. Does God really need me?
- Q&A: How do I overcome the feeling that my life has no purpose and I don’t make a difference?
- Q&A: My friend died and was not a professing Christian. What do I say to the family?
- Q&A: How can my mother and I forgive my father for being unfaithful and causing my parents to divorce?
- Q&A: Why were demon possession, gifts of healing, and gifts of tongues more prevalent in biblical times?
- Q&A: Is Christianity the only religion that gives the certainty of heaven?
- Q&A: If people go to hell, isn’t it their fault because God gave them free will and they rejected him?
- Q&A: Why are the 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and his ascension important for the disciples and for us?
- Q&A: Can you explain Jesus’ words to the wailing women he met on his way to be crucified?
- Q&A: What if spouses don’t “love” each other anymore?
- Q&A: Is it wrong to have a cross with Jesus’ body on it?
- Q&A: Is our time of grace really unchangeable?
- Q&A: I know that we are saved by grace apart from works, but how can it be that easy?
- Q&A: Are there degrees of glory in heaven as a reward for good works?
- Q&A: Do Lutherans take the Bible literally and teach millennialism?
- Q&A: Are there different interpretations of the Bible?
- Q&A: How can we be sure the Bible includes what God originally gave us?
- Q&A: Why does it seem like Christianity is so negative?
- Q&A: How can I explain how Jesus’ resurrection is possible and if the Bible is reliable?
- Q&A: Is it okay to live together if we are planning to get married?
- Q&A: How is the Bible God’s Word?
- Q&A: Were we “created to make a difference”?
- Q&A: Am I being judgmental if I point out someone’s sin?
- Q&A: Do I need to read the Bible to have a relationship with God?
- Q&A: Can a Christian vote for a political candidate who supports abortion?
- Q&A: Does God really care?
- Q&A: Does it really matter how God made the world?
- Q&A: Does God send people to hell?
- Q&A: Is death natural?
- Q&A: How can I forgive and forget?
- Q&A: Does God help those who help themselves?
- Q&A: How can we say that the Old Testament God is the same as the New Testament God?
- Q&A: Is Jesus the only way to get to heaven?
- Q&A: Doesn’t God want me to be happy?
- Light for our path: Does God hate us?
- Light for our path: What kind of comfort can you give someone when a loved one commits suicide?
- Light for our path: What does a submissive wife in a Christian marriage look like?
- Light for our path: Is it a sin to want to die from a terminal illness?
- Light for our path: What advice can you give about applauding in church?
- Light for our path: Can you please explain Matthew 5:20?
- Light for our path: What is karma?
- Light for our path: Can the devil personally be tempting me and a lot of other people at exactly the same time?
- Light for our path: Does the word Easter refer to Ishtar, the Babylonian fertility goddess?
- Light for our path: What role does emotion play in contrition?
- Light for our path: What does the white stone in Revelation 2:17 mean?
- Light for our path: Is the cross symbol now anti-Christian?
- Light for our path: Were Joseph and Mary engaged or married when Joseph learned of Mary’s pregnancy?